back to article Bug-Byte Manic Miner

For me, 1983 was all about Flashdance but getting Manic Miner for my ZX Spectrum on Christmas morning was almost as good as some burgundy legwarmers. Manic Miner Manic Miner: fiendishly frustrating and yet so easily addictive Created by Matthew Smith and released by Bug-Byte Software, this diabolically difficult platformer …


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  1. jubtastic1

    Loading screen made me grin

    The first few arrrgh-peeps, building anticipation for the game code's audio assault. Think I'm going to have to rip that for an alarm sound.

  2. paulc
    Thumb Up

    POKE codes?

    do they still work... do the emulators support the magic ROM pack that could snapshot the game and also let you do the POKEs needed to get to start at various levels or enable invincibility etc.

    I wasted so much time playing this game...

  3. bitmap animal

    What a great game

    They had a Spectrum running this at the Computer Museum in Bletchley Park when I visited last year. I managed to get straight through the first few levels, I hadn't realised how ingrained the game was.

    I really was a great innovation and game a big push to the industry.

  4. Paratrooping Parrot

    I loved this game

    This, along with Chuckie Egg were my favourite games for a long time. Although I did not get that far in this. I played it on the Amstrad CPC464.

  5. spaceyjase

    Final Barrier?

    The screen shot isn't from the Speecy version which had a picturesque view like shown on the title screen and a long conveyor belt under the exit. I've no idea what version the one form the article is from.

    1. David Gosnell

      Blue Danube

      Ditto with the jarring Blue Danube, which wasn't loading music (the Spectrum wasn't quite that smart), merely title screen music.

    2. Alan Bourke

      Yes they do ...

      an emulator emulates the target hardware exactly, and what you're playing is an image of the original software, so anything you could do on a real Spec you can do on the emulator.

    3. William Towle

      Re: Final Barrier?

      I reckon it's from a Beeb from the look of the fonts used.

      ...and a quick google confirms this level was indeed one that was "introduced (or modified) by non-Spectrum versions of Manic Miner" on the Beeb:

      // Terminator because the icon reminds me of one of the baddies

    4. mrmond


      The original version needed 6031769 for the any level cheat but typewriter in the software projects version.

      You only needed pokes for infinite lives. 35136,0 for the spectrum or MM running obn a speccy emulator.

      1. John70


        wasn't it writetyper for Jet Set Willy?

    5. stucs201

      Always looks wrong in colour to me anyway

      Had the Dragon 32 version, which was black and white. On the plus side it did apparently have 2 extra levels. Not that they were much use, I could barely get past the first one :( Chucky Egg on the other hand, I was rather good at that :)

      Penguin Icon? Dragon's cheat code: P P PENGUIN

      1. Vometia

        Re: Always looks wrong in colour to me anyway

        Probably just as well the Dragon's version was black and white: the Dragon's approach to colours was such that the manual's official description of white was "buff". I seem to recall that the red was more of a mud brown, and green looked rather radioactive. And then there was the aliasing... They were good times, but I'm glad graphics quality has moved on just a bit!

    6. Giles Jones Gold badge

      BBC version

      Indeed. I did wonder what that was all about.

      After some Internet research I believe that's from the BBC Micro version.

  6. David Hicks

    Wow, Manic Miner

    First game we had for the C64 when I was but a little'un.

    I remember Eugene's Lair very well. As soon as you get the last key, Eugene goes and sits on the portal, blocking you. Timing it perfectly was essential.

    Any game that progressed past Eugene's Lair was a success and felt like breaking exciting new ground.

    Maybe I ought to go download it.

  7. bowdie


    That last screenshot isn't from a spectrum. BBC perhaps?

    1. Allicorn

      Title schmitle

      Neither is the first one: top of the tree trunk shows yellow, red and green pixels all within the same 8x8 attribute square. Not possible on speccy.

      Nor the second one: Willy's white-on-black head and the red-on-black ground tile cannot share the same 8x8 square without becoming both white-on-black or both red-on-black.

      1. William Towle


        The top screenshot has the tree trunk rendered one character-cell wide (in red/yellow) with red/green cells immediately above and yellow/green below. There's no confusion here - look across to the garden and you'll see where the cell boundaries roughly lie.

        Agree about the other one though.

      2. cyborg

        Rainbow Processing

        Technically it was possible to show more than two colours in a cell at a time via use of precise timing. Essentially you had to update the attribute setting of your target square such that the top part of it had been sent down the wire to the telly and hence was fixed, but the next line down had yet to be drawn. By the time the ULA has gone back to memory to request the colour of that square to send down the wire again it's changed from what it was last and hey presto the 8x8 colour restriction is broken - at least going over multiple lines.

        IIRC the best you could do would be a sort of 4x2 grid (split the cell into two halves, one side ink, other paper, and you could update in time so that the first two lines are two colours, the next two are another two etc..).

        1. Joefish

          Still can't put red, white and black in the same 8x1 area though

          Which is what that screenshot shows. And the maximum width anyone's ever achieved with independent 8x1 attributes is half the screen. (Or full screen on a 128K, but with 2x8 attributes).

        2. Steven Roper

          Re: Rainbow Processing

          Did the Speccy have a raster-compare register? I know what you described could be done on the Commodore 64 - I coded many a scrolly demo with "rasterbars" using the HBLANK colour-poke technique, in my time! But doing so requires a raster compare (on the c64 it was wait on $D014/$D016 change and STA #colour into $D020/$D021 IIRC, been too many years so I might have it wrong.) I didn't think this was possible on the Speccy, can anyone from that era enlighten me please?

  8. Andrew N

    Hardest level

    I reckon the hardest level was the Room with all the light beams, I can't remember what that was called. It has to have been the hardest thing to do ever, especially as you only often got one go at it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The awesome Solar Power Generator

      That is all

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Eugines Lair, what memories...

    Now for Attic Attack, Jetset Willy, Daley Thompsons Decathlon, Saber Wulf, The Hobbit, but feel free to skip Mr Wimpey!

    Oh happy days...

    1. Code Monkey
      Thumb Up

      +1 for Atic Atac

      That was my favourite. And a marvel of the programmer's art to squeeze all that into a mere 48k.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Giles Jones Gold badge

          C64 demo scene was the best

          Towards the end they managed to get a lot more out of the C64 graphically and sonically. They managed to get more RAM, sprites in the borders and sound improvements.

          Recently they managed to do a music replay routine for the C64 that gave it 4 channels of digital sample playback and two synth channels. Both can be filtered!

          Quite impressive given it didn't have sample playback facilities at all (they exploited a click bug in the chip) and it only had three channels of synth playback.

      2. Mike Richards Silver badge

        Atic Atac!

        Pure bloody genius.

        It was the one game as a C64 owner I wanted more than any, so I was thrilled when (and correct me if I'm wrong) BugByte released Wizard's Lair for the C64 - a near as dammit clone.

        Shame we never got Knights Lore and Sabre Wulf though.

  10. The Fuzzy Wotnot


    Superb! You should cover a little about Mr Smith, he's still quite a character!

  11. Natalie Gritpants
    Thumb Up

    Please do Chuckie Egg

    Or tell me where to get hold of it again.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Chuckie Egg is great!

      I wasted so much time with that when I was at school, and now there's a Windows version, more time wasted. It seems harder now (I actually finished it when I was young(er)).

      There is info and a port at (munged URL)

      Take out the % symbols to access the URL. I have done this because Avast! flags up as a compromised site. :-(

      Of course, for those of you not actually running Windows... ;-)

  12. A 31
    Thumb Up

    oooh these loading screens

    thanks for the memory el reg !

    that game really tested my patience when I was a kid

  13. Admiral Grace Hopper


    I still return to this game even now. Even on an emulated system I can almost feel the squished liquorice allsort keyboard.

    1. Rob Beard
      Thumb Up

      Rubber keyboard

      I was under the impression that Elite (yep, the same Elite from the 8-Bit days) were in the process of developing a bluetooth keyboard for the iPhone in the style of a rubber key 48K Speccy, I haven't heard much since I read about it, I believe late last year or early this year, but if they do release it I'm sure it'll either work on a PC/Mac or maybe even an Android phone or PS3/Wii with emulators, or someone will work out how to make it work.

      Just wish I could find some more information about it as I really want one.


  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Playing it on real hardware

    Playing Manic Miner on an emulator is fun, but nothing beats playing classic games on the real systems.

    If you fancy having a go at playing this or other classic games on real hardware, then come along to the next Retro Computer Museum event where the ZX Spectrum and many other machines from the 1970s,1980s and 1990s are available for visitors to use.


  15. nick dring
    Thumb Up

    loved this

    Many hours spent playing this - its even great today on the ipad/iphone.

  16. Anonymous Coward


    That last pic is from the BBC version of the game - the Spectrum "The Final Barrier" was completely different. Also the Spectrum version doesn't have air-draining beams of sunlight in Eugene's Lair.

  17. Stuart Elliott
    Thumb Up

    And the cheat code was

    6031769 - a number that is ingrained on my psychie, you keyed that number in anywhere in the game and a boot appeared in the status bar, you then pressed and held various combinations of 6 and other numbers to skip direct to the various levels.

    Damned fine game, never managed to get the supposed cheat for Jet Set Willy working, was always led to understand it was "typewriter" or "writetyper", I forget which, but hey ho.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      God damn, I thought I was the only one who remembered that code......

      Must stop using it as a password.

  18. NightFox
    Thumb Up

    A Classic

    This truly has to be one of the defining games of the era. As a Vic 20/Commodore 64 owner I naturally had nothing but contempt for the Spectrum, but this game turned that contempt to jealousy and its eventual release on the Commodore saw the start of many, many wasted(?) evenings.

    Bug Byte churned out some excellent games - I even remember being in Liverpool once and forcing my Mum to take to to their offices, the address of which I knew off by heart from all of their magazine ads; 100 Old Hall Street rings a bell, even after all these years. I think I was expecting some sort of Aladdin's cave so was a little let down to be given a rather blank reception by some confused looking developers.

    I just wonder, given the limited spread of the Spectrum outside of the UK (including the Timex version in the US), how much the rest of the World is even aware of Manic Miner and what it missed out on?

  19. GrumpyJoe
    Thumb Up

    I'd like to thank you

    for embedding that tune in my head all day. No really, thanks.

    I'll return the favour - Sonic the Hedgehog, Green Hill Zone!

    Now it's in YOUR head (audio virus ahoy).

    1. Code Monkey

      Ultimate Earworm

      Spanish Flea

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      I second that...

      Sonic - Green Hill Zone. I'm firing up my emulator right now. And I legally own the game, the console and the sore thumb - ops, the last one is mine. They all work perfectly, but right now they are inside a oxygen-tight glass display. No, the thumb is not sealed.

      I see your Sonic Green Hill Zone and raise you a Streets of Rage (Brass Knucles) - opening title and Level 8. Yuzo Koshiro still rules. Since my Mega Drive (er Genesis..) had the stereo audio jack, I ripped most of those soundtracks... with a tape recorder.

      Here is another one for those bassists on call: Toe Jam & Earl. On the sound test you get only the Bass track.

  20. Scott 2

    Ahh but,

    the Commodore 64 version was clearly the best!

    *cue Spec vs CBM flamewar*

    1. Paul RND*1000


      If you liked blocky graphics in 15 shades of brown.


  21. Danny 4

    Take me back to the 80s

    Gosh. What memories.

    Manic Miner was an exercise in frustration. Unless you used the POKE for infinite lives you were on the road to madness. Even as a spotty kid there was no way I had those kind of reflexes. Same goes for the sequel Jet Set Willy.

    I once had the pleasure of meeting the long-haired and sandal-shod Matthew Smith at the Software Projects offices in Liverpool when I was selling them my game for the Speccy. An highly interesting guy.

    Miner Willy turned up in the crowd cheering on the athletes in the Spectrum version of Daly Thompson's Decathlon. There was friendly competition between Ocean and Software Projects at the time so a bit of homage never hurt. In my spare time after school I did work for Ocean. Paul Owens wanted me to do some code to print a cheering crowd for Decathlon. Even though the code, graphics and sound effects all had to fit into something like 200 bytes it was still quite effective. Those were the days...

    Being a geek I was more into Wargames in 1983.

    1. lawndart


      There were some pretty good wargames on the speccy. I can't remember the titles or who made them and can't look them up from work, but one company did a phenomenal Arnhem battle and Tunisian campaign. They managed to keep me amused for months on end. Then if you liked a fantasy wargame there was always Lords of Midnight.

      Superb stuff.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wargames

        Arnhem (Operation Market Garden), Desert Rats (North Africa campaign), and Vulcan (Tunisian campaign) were are all cracking wargames programmed by Robert T.Smith, and published by CCS.

        My other favourite war/strategy games on the Speccy were:

        - Chaos, Rebelstar 1 & 2, and Laser Sqaud (written by the Gollop brothers, who later went on to create the Xcom series on the PC).

        - Swords of Bane

        - Shadowfire 1

        - Alien

        - The Bulge

        - Stonkers (published in 1984 by Imagine, and arguably the first-ever RTS game!)

  22. Bassey

    What a great game

    I played this for, literally, years. The O and P keys on the (rubbish) keyboard eventually died and we had to re-map them to U and I - until they, too, died and we worked our way back down the keyboard. It was probably a year before I was able to complete it (I was only 6 or 7!) and there was no save game. If you wanted to complete it you had to do it in one setting.

    We had Jet Set Willy, the follow-up, but it never caputred the joy of those original 20 caverns. My opinions are obviously coloured by nostalgia but I would still rate it as one of the greatest games with Half-Life and Geof Crammond's F1.

  23. OldBiddie

    This *is* a title

    6031769 - that is all.

  24. Jason 23

    love it

    Love it love love it!!!!!

    I'll never forget the first time I played this at a friends house sometime in the early 80's...a year or two later I had my own spectrum + and this was one of my first games. Still love it now though its not so easy to play on the ipad or iphone!!!

    I haven't seen some of those those levels in the screenshot's above for 25 I'm old.

    kids today with their Xboxes and Playstations don't know they've been born!!

    Ah nostalgia for the good ol' days :)


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